For the second time in as many seasons, the Massachusetts women’s lacrosse team gained some momentum in the NCAA tournament only before running into top-seeded Maryland in its backyard.
After stringing together a pair of victories last weekend against Princeton and Cornell, UMass (20-2, 9-0 Atlantic 10) fell to the No. 1-ranked Terrapins (21-0, 5-0 Big Ten) 18-3 Sunday afternoon in the national quarterfinal at Maryland Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex.
“It was a tough day for us,” Minutewomen coach Angela McMahon told the Daily Hampshire Gazette after the game. “Maryland is the best team in the country. They came to play. … Our girls battled out there the whole time. I couldn’t be more proud of this team and what they accomplished. Our leadership and our seniors, this was an amazing group of people.”
Caroline Steele opened the floodgates for Maryland with a goal exactly one minute into the game, that quickly turned into momentum for the Terrapins.
Maryland scored eight unanswered goals over the first 17:59 of the contest before Callie Santos ended the streak with an unassisted score with 10:11 remaining in the first half to cut the lead to 8-1.
The Terrapins rattled off another five goals before the end of the half, giving them a 13-1 lead heading into the locker room.
“Every game we try to come out hot and try to get a couple early to get some momentum and get things going,” McMahon said. “Today it went the other way, and you’re playing a little bit of catch up. You give the No. 1 team in the country a lead, it’s going to be hard to climb out of that.”
Hannah Murphy scored the first goal of the second half on an assist from Erika Eipp, while Ashley Faulhaber scored with 5:55 remaining for the Minutewomen’s lone goals of the second half. Maryland scored four times in-between UMass’ goals.
Zoe Stukenberg led all scorers with five goals for the Terrapins, while Steele and Megan Whittle each tallied four in the winning effort.
For the first time all season, the Minutewomen lost the battle of draw controls (15-22), as well as the shot department (18-30). First-half goalkeeper Sam Walters allowed 13 goals while making five saves. Aileen Kelly played her normal minutes in the second half, yielding five goals making two saves.
Maryland, the two-time defending national champion, will face Syracuse in the Final Four next weekend in Philadelphia.
Andrew Cyr can be reached at [email protected], and followed on Twitter @Andrew_Cyr.